Airport Pat Downs
As you may know, there have been a number of widely reported horrible incidents at airport secuirty related to the new body scanners. These machines, if you haven't flown recently, send an x-ray like picture of your body to someone who is sitting in another building (the distance is so that the individual seeing the scans can't see the real person, supposedly this protects your privacy). Although these pictures presumably will pick up hidden bombs or box cutters or other illegal articles, they also show medical devices: colostomy bags, prostheses, etc.
Since I live in Boston, I frequently travel out of Logan Airport. Logan was one of the first (? maybe the first) airport in the country to begin using these machines. Delta, my most commonly used carrier, replaced all of their security scanners with these new x-ray scanners, so there is no way to avoid them. Last week, I had a semi meltdown when, once again, the scanner picked up my breast prosthesis and sets off a whole unpleasant series of events. It does no good to warn the TSA person before the scan. Once I had been identified as a possible terrorist, a female agent pulled me aside for a pat down. She did offer a private pat-down which I accepted. That meant that she had to find a second female agent which took quite a while and resulted in a lot of dirty looks as everything slowed down. In the private pat down room, I attempted to explain and show the problem, and that really set them off. Turning their backs on me, they just said over and over: "We have to pat you down or you don't fly." I gave up.
In the future, I will try to remember the three options: (1) take out the prosthesis before going through security, put it in my purse or carry on, retrieve it later, (2) tolerate a repeat of the above experience, trying better to control my temper, or (3) flip out the prosthesis in full view of everyone and dump it in the little box with my shoes. I hope that I have enough nerve to do #3.
And here is an article from the Times about a similar experience. I give you the beginning and then a link to read more:
Airport Pat-Down for Breast Cancer PatientBy TARA PARKER-POPE
Tightened security at airports has created new problems for medical patients, who may be subjected to embarrassing public pat-downs after imaging machines detect devices or implants related to their health.
The latest case involves Lori Dorn, a 44-year-old New York woman who learned in March that she had breast cancer. After tests revealed a high genetic risk for cancer, Ms. Dorn underwent a bilateral mastectomy in April as well as a grueling chemotherapy treatment that just ended in September. As part of her breast reconstruction, tissue expanders were implanted to stretch her skin before placement of a permanent breast implant
But Ms. Dorn says that last week, on her way to San Francisco to visit friends, she was treated with hostility and humiliated after the tissue expanders were detected by a body scanning machine at Kennedy Airport in New York. She said the workers from the Transportation Security Administration would not let her retrieve a medical card explaining the implants, a situation she wrote about on her blog.
I told her that I was not comfortable with having my breasts touched, and that I had a card in my wallet that explains the type of expanders, serial numbers and my doctor's information and asked to retrieve it. This request was denied. Instead, she called over a female supervisor who told me the exam had to take place. I was again told that I could not retrieve the card and needed to submit to a physical exam in order to be cleared. She then said, "And if we don't clear you, you don't fly," loud enough for other passengers to hear. And they did. And they stared at the bald woman being yelled at by a T.S.A. supervisor.